Impact on strategies for customer/member/service user acquisition
Customers want help with staying active and with payment terms, and this provides an opportunity for acquiring new customers
Many customers, whether consumers (B2C) or businesses (B2B), highlight the overriding importance of staying economically active (this was the single most important aspect of support in the whole survey). They also pointed out a growing perceived importance of help with payment terms (this scored 1.31 in perception “now”, but rose to 1.44 after 3 months).
With many customers more likely to be considering switching right now, there is an opportunity to provide particular starter packages for new customers to tap into these two insights. It is well known that subscription models fare best during economic downturns, because customers feel they “own” the subscription, and so are more likely to retain them for longer than other types of purchase.
The free trial period model, often used by software companies, may be helpful at creating this sense of ownership. Right now, however, it also has the advantage of assisting customers to stay economically active (by delivering the value from your product or service to them immediately) and helping them with payment terms – in effect, buy now, pay later. From a business point of view, this also gives you the period of the free trial to demonstrate the value and ensure the new customer is happy to purchase at the end of it. The clear advantage from a business point of view is once you do convert them to a paying customer, they are more likely to retain the subscription, and you have created a long-term, repeatable revenue model that has the additional advantage of positively affecting business valuations.
The biggest challenge with this is often one of mindset. Many businesses will say “well, that’s fine for content businesses like apps and media, but it doesn’t work for me”. Firstly, they are probably more ubiquitous than you might think – greengrocers delivering fruit to offices every week are subscription models. Secondly, given the transformational environment at the moment, it is well worth exploring how you can make this work in the post-Covid world. What are the facets that make your repeat customers come back to you, and how can you translate these into a different model? But perhaps as importantly, as the survey insights show, it helps to answer the need of two key customer trends.
Impact on strategies for customer/member/service user retention
Emphasise customers' greater personal positivity
One of the key trends in the survey is that individuals feel more positive about how they are coping and their prospects than how they feel about their organisation's prospects.
This highlights an interesting opportunity about how to retain customers – focus on the individual and build on their comparatively greater confidence in marketing messages. These will need to be subtly different in a B2B and B2C environment, but can still take advantage of the same trend.
In a consumer context, the opportunity is to emphasise how your brand can build on this personal happiness and associate it some of the key transformational trends also noted in the survey.
Consumer brands have the opportunity to build on this new sense of community purpose, local support and convenience and physical and mental health to help. For many, this may well be part of the existing marketing, for others, it might be a nascent or comparatively hidden aspect of your culture that you can now emphasise.
For B2B, the same principles can apply about how you can help support your business community, or help your business clients do the same. But as the survey shows, individual employees may not feel as confident about the business to business ecosystem, and potentially their place in it. This means they may be more interested in investing in themselves, their teams and their skills, while they wait for the business confidence to pick up. For instance, training courses, originally set up for free to help people on furlough, have proved so popular that organisations are either now paying for their staff to access them, or ascribing significant value to justify renewing other existing services. This connects well with a product designed to build extra personal confidence, but which B2B organisations can see value in.
It is important to note that staying economically active during the pandemic is the most important of all the services across the board. This is more important than direct financial support that may have been more expected (such as help with payment terms etc). As other factors like guidance and flexibility appear relatively high then it seems clear that organisations need to retain their customers by understanding their changed behaviours.
This is combined with the fact that ALL segments get typically more positive over time and that the data also suggests that as things get better, more trust will be out back on the organisation.
So it seems short term bounceback is not the key play for retention, engagement and appropriate transformation is more likely to garner long term customer support. However, there is clearly and opportunity in the short term (that is, for the rest of 2020) to market products and services based on and encouraging individual optimism, even within B2B environments.